Crime

Woman Who Drugged, Burned Daughter In Car Sentenced

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A judge sentenced a woman who drugged her daughter and then put the child in a vehicle and set it on fire to life in prison with the possibility of parole for 18 years.

Justice Scott Brooker said Laura Coward's sentence must reflect "society's disgust and outrage," according to the CBC.

In 2014, three days after Coward's divorce from Duan Lucius -- in which he was awarded full custody of their 9-year-old-daughter Amber -- was finalized, Coward reportedly took the child to a rural property. She then gave Amber a toxic, but non-lethal, dose of prescription sleeping pills she had stolen from a friend. 

Coward reportedly thought Amber was dead before she placed her in the vehicle, filled the truck with paper and platic totes, lit it on fire with a propane torch, closed the door and burned her daughter alive, according to The Canadian Press.

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A police officer came upon the burned vehicle and found a handwritten note on the outside of the SUV that read: "Help me. It was an accident. Locked keys in."

Inside the truck, authorities found Amber's body. An autopsy found the 9-year-old girl died from a combination of hypothermia, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide toxicity. 

Coward was standing outside of the burned vehicle when police took her into custody.

"Amber was completely vulnerable to and trusting of her mother," Brooker said, according to the CBC. "It was the ultimate betrayal and breach of trust for Ms. Coward to kill her daughter."

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Authorities initially charged Coward with first-degree murder, but she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February.

"There's no way you could ever put into numbers how significant the offense is," defense lawyer Jim Lutz said after the judge handed down the sentence. "Everybody's pretty broken up about this."

Prosecutors Mac Vomberg and Jillian Pawlow had proposed a 20-year parole ineligibility for Coward, while Lutz asked for her to be eligible to apply for parole in 10 to 12 years. Brooker decided that Coward will not be eligible for parole for 18 years.

Lucius said in a statement that he does not believe any sentence "will do justice for what has happened to Amber."

"As a father, I have had to bury my child and nothing will bring her back," Luicious added. "I can only hope that other children are not being used as bargaining chips in a divorce or used to hurt the other parent."

Sources: The Canadian Press via Huffington Post, CBC / Photo credit: CBC

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